- Easter holiday makes it crunch time at top
- Leeds chase second with six victories from eight
- Aston Villa on charge with eight straight wins
English football loves its big holiday shake-downs more than any other nation. The Easter period traditionally has a huge influence on title races and the promotion and relegation dog-fights.
With two fixtures inside four days on Good Friday and the following Bank Holiday Monday, the battle for promotion from the EFL Championship will be at fever pitch.
EFL Championship Promotion Odds
|Team||Odds at BetOnline|
|West Bromich Albion||+300|
*Odds taken April 17, 2019
Norwich A Lock For Top Spot
Norwich City have such a firm grip on first place that BetOnline are not offering odds despite two straights draw against lowly Reading and then Wigan Athletic last weekend.
⚽️🎙️PODCAST 🎙️⚽️@RSootyYPSport discusses the relative merits of #Leeds and #Sheffield Utd in their relentless battle to seal automatic promotion from the @SkyBetChamp to the @premierleague #lufc #sufc #Twitterwhites #Twitterblades ⬇️https://t.co/tiHxDfcuNk
— Yorkshire Post Sport (@YPSport) April 17, 2019
But Leeds United are worthy favorites to claim the second place they currently occupy.
That would land an automatic spot, with BetOnline offering them at -500.
Sheffield United are currently third which would win a place in the four-team playoffs.
They are rated at -125.
— Anwar El Ghazi (@AElGhazi7) April 13, 2019
But on current form, it is fifth-placed Aston Villa who offer the best opportunity for profit.
Priced at +200 for promotion, they recorded their eighth-straight league win against promotion rivals Bristol City last Saturday.
Bolton Game Offers Chance to Extend Run
A home fixture on Good Friday against second-from-bottom Bolton Wanderers promises that Villa will extend the run.
In such a competitive league, momentum counts for so much.
On Monday, they face Millwall – who could offer fierce resistance as they battle the drop.
But in such a competitive league, momentum counts for so much. So Villa could be looking at a six-point haul over Easter.
This would go a long way to securing a playoff place, with their odds likely to narrow after the holiday.
Daunting Final Two Fixtures For Villa
The problem is that their two following and final matches could not be more daunting – away at Leeds and at home to Norwich.
Leeds face struggling Wigan and mid-table Brentford during Easter. So they should maintain their drive.
Leeds currently have only a three-point lead in the second automatic promotion spot.
It has been a fierce battle with third-placed Sheffield United but they edged clear last weekend.
They have won six of their last eight games and face struggling Wigan and mid-table Brentford during Easter. So they should maintain their drive.
Millwall scored an equaliser in the 95th minute against Sheffield United 🤗
But, was this a foul just a few seconds before?!? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/9CW0IaaxCf
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) April 15, 2019
After that, the clash with Aston Villa will be highly-charged. But Leeds then have a final day fixture at Ipswich Town, who are already relegated.
Both their form and a favorable run-in explain why Leeds remain favorites for second spot.
Blades Only One Win in Four
Sheffield United’s Blades have drawn their last two games and won only once in four.
The holiday matches present the opportunity for a revival although they have injury problems.
— Joe Urquhart (@JoeUrquhartYEP) April 17, 2019
On Good Friday, they are at home to 11th-placed Nottingham Forest, who have lost three of their last five.
United have their last two games against doomed Ipswich and 16th-placed Stoke City, who have little now to play for.
Monday’s visit to ninth-placed Hull City could be more tricky.
The have dragged themselves out of relegation trouble with a marked improvement in form since Christmas. They haven’t lost at home since November 24.
But United have their last two games against doomed Ipswich and 16th placed Stoke City, who have little now to play for. The run-in certainly looks inviting for United.
West Bromwich Albion Could Have a Holiday Revival
West Bromwich Albion are in fourth place above Aston Villa but are rated more widely at +300.
This reflects two defeats in the last three games.
W. W. W.
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) April 16, 2019
After a 4-1 thrashing of Preston North End last time out, their four game run-in could tempt an outside bet as they face Hull City, struggling Reading, fellow strugglers Rotherham and promotion outsiders Derby County.
Bristol City could tempt a brave wager, with holiday matches coming up against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.
The qaurtet favored to reach the playoffs is completed by Bristol City, with odds of +750 that they will be promoted.
They could tempt a brave wager, with holiday matches coming up against Reading and Sheffield Wednesday.
However, they then face Derby County, currently placed eighth. On the final day, they meet Millwall who could be in a last-ditch battle to survive.
Promotion Picks: Leeds -500, Aston Villa +200